Run! It May Add Years to Your Life
Researchers from Stanford compared runners in their mid-50s with non-exercising community members. Twenty-one years later, the death rate was more than 50 percent lower among the runners.
Running increases lifespan. That is the oft-stated conclusion of numerous studies. Let’s first look at an expert analysis of a collection of studies.
In their piece entitled “Is running associated with a lower risk of all-cause, cardiovascular and cancer mortality, and is more better? Researchers examined fourteen studies. They concluded that:
“Increased participation in running, regardless of amount, would probably lead to substantial improvements in population health and longevity. Any amount of running appears to be better than none, but higher amounts may not be associated with greater mortality benefits.”
A 2018 analysis of a group of studies on running and life length found that runners have about a nearly one-third lower rate of all-cause mortality on follow-up than non-runners. The meta-analysis showed that running participation is associated with 27, 30, and 23 percent lower [relative] risks of all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality, respectively, compared with no running.
But, the analysis revealed no significant dose–response trends for weekly frequency, weekly duration, pace, and the total volume of running. Investigators concluded: “Any amount of running, even once a week, is better than no running.”
Running as a Key Lifestyle Medicine for Longevity.
I love the title of this research paper. The authors offer that running is a popular and convenient leisure-time physical activity (PA) with a significant impact on longevity. In general, runners drop premature mortality by up to 40 percent and live approximately three years longer than non-runners.
Finally, in another well-known study, Stanford (USA) researchers compared local runners in their mid-50s with non-exercising community folks who had the same excellent medical care.
Twenty-one years later, the death rate was more than 50 percent lower among the runners. The runners also had lower disability scores. The older the subjects became, the more significant the advantages are seen among runners.
While these are not randomized trials, the associations are consistent across studies.
Let me end with this observation: I am not a runner. For those of you who do run, good for you. For me, I try to get many of the same benefits by regularly walking briskly. I am the Forrest Gump of my hospital; for the initiate, the film depicts several decades in the life of Forrest Gump (portrayed by the actor Tom Hanks), a slow-witted but kind-hearted man from Alabama who witnesses and unwittingly influences several defining historical events in the 20th century United States. Forrest walks everywhere, and I mean everywhere.
I’m Dr. Michael Hunter (and I hope I am not as dim-witted as the charming Forrest), and I hope you keep moving, and that you have a joy-filled day! Thank you for joining me today, and be safe.